A unusually high number of wildfires were reported in Greenland in July and August as scientists expressed concern over rising temperatures in the Arctic Circle.
This footage from Orla Joelsen, shows fires in Qeqqata, a municipality in western Greenland, on August 6.
The European Commission’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS), which monitors wildfires, floods, and droughts using satellite imagery, said on August 1 that the Qeqqata fire had been “smouldering since early July” as a “heatwave” affected the island.
Officials in Qeqqata said on August 5 that a fire burning near the town of Sisimiut was not yet extinguished but had been successfully confined to a certain area.
Mark Parrington of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) on July 22 described the fires across the Arctic Circle as “unprecedented.” He told the BBC that “temperatures in the Arctic have been increasing at a much faster rate than the global average, and warmer conditions encourage fires to grow and persist once they have been ignited.” Greenland was already suffering from rapid ice melting due to the increase in temperature, with experts saying the ice loss has added about 180 billion tons of water to the world’s oceans in July, about 100 billion tons more than normal.
Copernicus EMS also raised concerns over increased levels of carbon dioxide being generated by the fires, which were burning not only in Greenland but other Arctic areas across Russia, Alaska, and Canada.
On August 3, it reported that it had found a fire burning 600 km further north of Greenland, in Russia’s Republic of Sakha.
The organization said it believed it “to be the northernmost fire in recent years.” Credit: Orla Joelsen via Storyful